Mobile phone network service provider, Airtel Malawi has been ordered to pay the total sum of K2.1 billion as a penalty by the Competition and Fair Trade Commission (CFTC) for flouting regulations by engaging in “unconscionable conduct” with respect to the rewarding of its “Khethekhethe” bonus.
CFTC acting executive director Apoche Itimu said the Commission launched an investigation on September 16, 2021 against the Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE) listed Airtel Malawi following several complaints from consumers.
“It was alleged that the respondent (Airtel Malawi) stopped automatically crediting customer accounts with monthly bonuses, instead, it was alleged that customers were required to apply for the redemption of their bonuses on the 14th of every month.
“Consequently, whoever, for one reason or another did not redeem their bonuses, had them forfeited,” said Itimu.
According to her, it was further alleged that the unredeemed bonuses were later appropriated and sold to other customers on the 15th.
Itimu said, by failing to promptly pay Khethekhethe bonus to all deserving customers who reached a minimum threshold of K1,000 per month, and consequently forfeiting the same to the company’s advantage.
She said Airtel Malawi made a financial gain of about K2.1 billion, thereby acting “unreasonably and without conscious.”
“The Commission therefore, ordered Airtel to pay a fine of K2,113,099,660 for engaging in unconscionable conduct in the trade of goods and services,” said Itimu, adding;
“This represented financial gain generated from the offence.”
On March 1, this year, Airtel introduced a service of which customers were able to instantly redeem KhetheKhethe airtime royalty bonus when they make a call, buy a bundle or use internet worth K1,000 and above.
The past bonus reclaim system was through customers dialing *600# on the 14th of every month.
The KhetheKhethe service, according Airtel Malawi comes with more rewards to customers on any day of the month that they transact.
After buying airtime or data of K1,000 and above (in multiples of K1,000), the customers are meant to get a notification SMS that they have received their instant bonus.
Khethekhethe, according to Airtel, involves using airtime to browse the Internet (data bonus of 100MB valid for a day); buying a data bundle (data bonus of 100MB valid for a day); using airtime to make a call (coming with a voice bonus of five minutes Airtel to Airtel) and buying a voice bundle (also with voice bonus of five minutes Airtel to Airtel)
Headquartered in Lilongwe, Airtel Malawi Plc is one of the country’s leading mobile service providers offering 4G/LTE, 2G and 3G wireless networks and and high speed flat broadband internet services.
Airtel Malawi also offers the largest mobile commercial service in the country through Airtel Money which was launched in Malawi in February 2011.
Airtel Malawi is a subsidiary of Airtel Africa Plc — a Pan-African telecommunications company with operations in 14 countries across Africa.
The Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) was established under the Competition and Fair Trading Act of 1998 with a mandate to regulate, monitor, control and prevent acts or behaviours which would adversely affect competition and fair trading in Malawi.
Any person may lodge a complaint against unfair trading practices with the Commission, at no charge.
CFTC is mandated by law to investigate unfair trade practices including violations of consumer rights and is tasked to taking all necessary steps to facilitate redress.
The Commission is also mandated to handle complaints and investigates restrictive business practicesFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :